We saw at the height of the pandemic images of older vulnerable people as he main casualties of COVID. But new research from the Centre for Ageing Better has vividly shone the spotlight onto the 50 -70 year older age group those approaching older life who are facing severe problems – health wise, job uncertainty, prospects of early retirement and worries about personal finances. The research shows:
- some 50-70s have seen their health decline, with one in five saying their physical health has worsened since lockdown. Over half have had a medical or dental appointment cancelled. 32% have been drinking more, and 36% have been smoking more.
- the number of older workers on unemployment related benefits has nearly doubled due to the pandemic – increasing from 304,000 in March to 588,000 in June.
- there is a risk of a ‘second wave’ of job losses for older workers as the furlough scheme comes to an end in October. One in four older workers – 2.5 million in total – have been furloughed, and hundreds of thousands of these workers may be unable to return to their previous jobs as some sectors struggle to recover.
- older workers who lose their jobs are far more likely to slip into long-term worklessness. Just one in three (35%) over 50s who lose their job return to work quickly, compared to two in three (63%) workers aged 25-34. Over 50s who are unemployed are twice as likely to have been out of work for over a year than those aged 18 to 24. Nearly seven in ten (68%) of those who are currently workless do not feel confident that that they will be employed in the future.
- there are worries about personal finances, with almost half of people in their 50s and 60s saying they expect their finances to worsen in the year ahead
The Centre for Ageing Better has urged government to support those in their 50s and 60s – targeted support to help over 50s back to work, a much stronger focus on improving people’s health, investment in the community infrastructure and action to tackle the poor quality homes . PAiL very much supports these measures but also wants these to be addressed as part of London’s Recovery Plan with firm actions as part of a coherent plan for older Londoners.